LONDON—The 75th World Health Assembly launched the WHO Eye Care in Health Systems Guide for Action this week at an event hosted by the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness (IAPB). The Guide is a new and important set of tools to support countries to include eye health in their national health programs. Launching the tools, Dr Bente Mikkelsen, director, non-communicable diseases, WHO said "We need 'all hands on deck' to take this forward," noting, “it's outrageous that in 2022 we have one billion people with vision impairment, and we have the oldest program in WHO standing since 1970.”

The event also highlighted successes from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Ethiopia and Tanzania who are setting an impressive example by delivering effective eye health interventions that put people at the center of care.

The new tools presented in the WHO Eye Care Guide for Action are a celebrated addition to helping countries implement recommendations presented in the WHO World Report on Vision and landmark global commitments made at the United Nations and World Health Assembly last year. The Eye Care Guide for Action comprises a set of new WHO technical tools, including the Package of Eye Care Interventions, Eye Care Indicator Menu and Eye Care Competency Framework.


Dr. Tedros, director-general WHO, addresses attendees of the IAPB launch of the WHO Eye Care Guide for Action in Geneva.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, addressed those in attendance saying, “WHO will continue to support these efforts with our new Eye Care Guide for Action, while also working to gather better data that will help accelerate progress. We are grateful to all our partners for your ongoing collaboration, as we strive for a world where every person has the opportunity to see clearly.”

Peter Holland, CEO of IAPB, said “We know that the burden of avoidable blindness is not equal. In 2021, we moved closer to addressing that inequality with the landmark UN Resolution on Vision, enshrining eye health as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Now we have the WHO Eye Care Guide for Action, an exciting set of practical tools that will support effective eye health interventions in national health programs, and ensure people receive the care they need, when they need it, and where they need it.”

IAPB is the overarching alliance for the global eyecare sector with almost 200 members worldwide drawn from NGOs and civil society, corporate organizations, professional bodies and research and eyecare institutions.

Also earlier this week at the Commonwealth High Commision event in Westminster earlier this week, hosted by the Vision for the Commonwealth Coalition, there was a further spotlight shone on the link between children's eye health and education ensuring that no child is left behind.

HRH The Countess of Wessex, an IAPB global ambassador, presented the inaugural Love Your Eyes Campaigner of the Year award at the session.
HRH The Countess of Wessex, a global ambassador of IAPB, along with other commissioners and public health officials addressed the problem.

Her Excellency Karen-Mae Hill, high commissioner of Antigua and Barbuda said, “Today, 90 million children in the Commonwealth are currently living with sight loss. As a result, these children have poorer educational outcomes, are more likely to be excluded from schools which has far-reaching consequences on their employment, earning potential and well-being.”

Dr Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers said, “Education is a fundamental human right but many children struggle to learn at school because of poor vision. Performance is affected if they are not given the educational support and the eye health care they need. Those in low and middle-income countries are disproportionately affected—statistics show that children with sight loss are two to five times less likely to be in formal education.”

As part of the event, HRH The Countess of Wessex presented 13-year-old Lowri Moore with the inaugural Love Your Eyes Campaigner of the Year Award. The Love Your Eyes campaign was launched by the IAPB in 2021 to bring awareness of the importance of taking care of your eyes and to break down the stigmas to wearing glasses. The campaign hopes to make eye health accessible, available and affordable to everyone by 2030.